UP: 2,000 Workers at Anpara Thermal Power Station Not Paid for 3 Months
Image credit: L&T India
Lucknow: More than 2,000 contractual labourers working at the Anpara Thermal Power Station in Sonbhadra are on the verge of starvation owing to non-payment of their salaries for the last three months.
Expressing grave concern over the alleged callous attitude of the power station management towards the labourers who have been working for the past two decades, the Theka Mazdoor Union secretary Tejdhari Gupta regretted that most labourers were finding it difficult to make both ends meet.
The honorarium ranging between Rs 5,000 and Rs 8,000 per month, which used to be released by the 7th of every month, was stopped in November last year.
"Workers are being fired slowly. A few years back, there were 5,000 workers in the Anpara Thermal Power Station; now, there are only 2,000. The reason is harassment and that even the minimum wages are paid. We get Rs 200 to Rs 250 per day. I get Rs 300 per day after having worked for almost 30 years," said Tejdhari Gupta, an electrician, speaking to NewsClick.
He added that despite the acute shortage of workers, they have been working beyond their prescribed duties to serve the state’s consumers.
"However, all their efforts are futile when the company fails to pay monthly salaries in time. It is demotivating that the workers are going back home without taking their dues," he said.
He further added, "Despite working for 30 days, the contractor marks attendance for only 20 days, so he has to pay less. How can one survive on Rs 6,000? Doesn't it sound inhuman? Besides, the supplier who supplies labour to the power station takes a commission from them. Whatever little is left, the local police finish in the name of making gate passes. A gate pass is necessary to enter the power station. Earlier, it had to be done once a year; now it is mandatory to make it every six months."
When asked about why the gate pass is mandatory, he said, "The police want to ensure that the workers are not Naxalite–Maoist or they have any such connection. But police leave no stone unturned to harass poor workers who come mostly from Jharkhand, Bihar, West Bengal, and Madhya Pradesh. Workers have to pay bribes to the police to get verification cleared. A labour who earns Rs 6,000 to Rs 7,000 pays a minimum of Rs 500 to Rs 1,000 for the verification."
Another worker alleged, "Every month, Rs 70 is deducted from our salary for the ESI, but the amount fixed for the employer to contribute for the same is never deducted and whenever we inquire about it, the management gives evasive answers."
For the last many years, power workers have been protesting for several demands such as safety equipment. Contractual workers should get the benefit of all high-level committee recommendations including work terms and conditions and honorarium; ESI (Employees’ State Insurance), EPF (Employees Provident Fund) and protection against the “unjust and exploitative” working conditions, Gupta said.
Dinkar Kapoor, state general secretary of All India Peoples' Front, based in Sonbhadra, told NewsClick, "The law says that under the Minimum Wages Act, salaries must be paid on every fifth day of the succeeding month. But in spite of the statutory law and the prime minister’s appeal, thousands of workers are left to die in hunger without salaries."
Kapoor said that it was the responsibility of the district administration and Anpara Thermal Power Station to ensure that the wages are paid to the workers every month. All India Peoples' Front has appealed to the chief minister to intervene and ensure that the workers are paid.
Meanwhile, the workers said that there was no proper canteen and dining hall, protected drinking water facility, toilets near the workplace for women workers, first-aid boxes at all places with all basic medicines and a two-wheeler parking bay with shade.
However, Anpara Thermal Power Station administration said all basic amenities had been created on the premises considering the welfare and safety of the workers.
The Anpara Thermal Power Station is located on the banks of the Rihand reservoir in Anpara of Sonbhadra district.
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